THEY SAVED NEW YORK

JohnnyGage

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Apr 23, 2018
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952
Lieutenant Tom Simmons;
Guess how many times I wore a mask?
He grinned, held up his hand, and said, "Maybe 5!"
91 years old today. 91!
Got on the FDNY job in 1957 after serving in the Marines, retired in 1983 as a Lieutenant of Engine Company 82 in the Bronx, and then went BACK to the Marines and served our country for ANOTHER 20 years.
When they talk about the greatest generation, they are talking about Tom Simmons.
Still smiling, still getting around, not at all different from the days when 82 Engine fought as many fires as any fire company ever did in the War Years in the South Bronx.
No masks, no fancy radios, no complicated command systems, a crew of dog tired firemen going from job to job and then going home and doing at again the next day.
They Saved New York.
From the upcoming book written by Dan Potter and photos by Glenn Usdin. Happy Birthday Tom, fire officer, soldier, patriot and great man.
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nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
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Lt Simmons, I too would like to wish you a very Happy Birthday.

I wasn't hanging around the streets of the South Bronx when you first got on the job back in 1957.
But I can tell you I SURE WAS when you were a Lieutenant in Engine Co 82 back in 1983.
In fact, I can go back 10 years earlier, in 1973 when you were on the job.
Maybe you saw me hanging out with the crowd of buffs, who followed and watch guys like you, "The GREATEST GENERATION of Firefighters", go from job to job. Doing what you guys did best.
I have no idea how you guys did it !

I, as well as so many others of us, are looking forward to reading stories like yours in Dan's upcoming book; "They SAVED New York".

You guys REALLY DID SAVE NEW YORK and So Many Lives as Well.

HAPPY 91st BIRTHDAY, Lt Simmons and many more.
 

*******

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May 21, 2009
Messages
202
Happy Birthday Tom. I was the Captain of E82 from 9/73 to 5/76. The Lieutenants at this time were Louie Andrade, Tom Walsh and Tom Simmons. Tom Simmons was well respected by the members of 82/31. Tom beside being a great fire boss was also a great office guy. Tom made sure that 82's books and office was well attended to. I received many compliments from out of company officers that went like this "I did a tour today in 82 and was very surprised by how well run their office is with all the work they do. I expected the office to be a "shithouse" when covering there, but was just the opposite. This was all Tom Simmons. Thank you Tommy, was always a pleasure. Bob Manson
 

JohnnyGage

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Apr 23, 2018
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952
Happy Birthday Tom. I was the Captain of E82 from 9/73 to 5/76. The Lieutenants at this time were Louie Andrade, Tom Walsh and Tom Simmons. Tom Simmons was well respected by the members of 82/31. Tom beside being a great fire boss was also a great office guy. Tom made sure that 82's books and office was well attended to. I received many compliments from out of company officers that went like this "I did a tour today in 82 and was very surprised by how well run their office is with all the work they do. I expected the office to be a "shithouse" when covering there, but was just the opposite. This was all Tom Simmons. Thank you Tommy, was always a pleasure. Bob Manson
Bob, I sent Tom your message.
 

68jk09

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May 6, 2010
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Happy & Healthy Birthday & Best Wishes for many more .....Semper Fi !
 

mack

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Aug 8, 2009
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Happy 91st birthday - and thank you for your great career.
 

mack

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Tom was also inducted into the 99th Assembly District Hall of Fame in 2019 for his service to our county:

Assemblyman Schmitt Hosts His Inaugural 99th Assembly District Veterans Hall Of Fame​

November 18, 2019

Town of Chester: Thomas Simmons, USMC

Thomas Simmons enlisted into the United States Marine Corps in January of 1951 and served 40 years before retiring on August 31st, 1991. He served his first three active years at Parris Island, Camp Pendleton and was eventually sent to Korea. He was discharged from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and served a second term at a naval air station in California. He finally came to Stewart Airbase and went into the reserves.

After settling at Stewart, he moved right here to the Town of Chester. He got involved in the Chester Ambulance Corps, served 26 years in the Fire department and is a volunteer at the NYC Fire Museum. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and I’m told can be found at the Rec center often playing cards and talking with his many friends.

Thomas is 88 years old and has 5 children. One of his son’s serves as a United States Marine today.



 

nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
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In a recent conversation with Dan, author of the upcoming book "They Saved New York", Dan reports he has completed his 90 interviews of the FDNY WAR YEARS FIREFIGHTERS.

It started out with the idea of writing a book about the Greatest Generation of Firefighters, who fought a staggering amount of serious building fires in the late 1960s, 1970s, and into the early 1980s.

As I remember, Dan's goal was to originally interview about 45 guys.
But that number grew to 60, and then to 90, of that "Greatest Generation of Firefighters".

The more stories he heard, the more interesting it got.

This project became a full time job for Dan, with homework as well.
He would try to interview four guys a day.
The schedule would require him to travel, as well as include his photographer, who lives in Pa., and his book editor, plus of course the members he would interview.

During the interviews, Dan took notes as well as recorded their conversations.
When he got home, he would then listen to those tapes, refer to his notes, and then he began writing each individual story.

Dan who knew, and was good friends with the late Dennis Smith (RIP), author of the book "Report From Engine Co 82", had told him; "writing a book could be a very long process and it takes a lot of work".
I think hearing Dan's story about his upcoming book, that was a very true statement.

Well friends, latest word is that Dan has now finished his part in that upcoming book.
It is now up to the publisher, editor, and his photographer to complete their part so that a date can be given on when this long awaited book will be released.

Dan also says that the book could contain as many as 300 pages with stories and photos.

I might also add:
ALL PROCEEDS and PROFITS FROM THE SALE OF THIS BOOK, DAN, aka "johnnygage", WILL BE DONATING "HIS SHARE" TO AN FDNY CHARITY Organization.
He wants NOTHING FOR HIMSELF.
 

nfd2004

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Jun 22, 2007
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Regarding the upcoming "They Saved New York" book, I would also like to mention, particularly to our Newer Members, a book published by one of our other members.
A good friend to many of us here, as he is sometimes referred to as "Our Most Valuable Player" because of his numerous contributions to our site, mostly in the "National Section".

Our member known as "mikeindabronx", with now OVER 27,000 messages/stories, posted here has also published a very popular book, along with Tom Barry titled:
"Into the SMOKE with NEW YORK's Bravest"
Like so many other books that have been written on the FDNY, I know that his first book titled: "FDNYs Bravest - Their Lives on the Line", was sold out and is no longer available.

If you can find them, "used", on sites like e-bay, they have skyrocketed in price.
One such book, is "20,000 Alarms", written by the late Lt Richard Hamilton (RIP) of Rescue 2, a highly decorated member of the FDNY, who I met when I was first introduced to the FDNY and rode with them in the late 1960s, was recently listed at $450.00.

I think places like Amazon still has new copies available of "mikeindabronx" latest book; "Into the Smoke with New York's Bravest" available.
The photos by "mikeindabronx" with stories told by Tom Barry, certainly keeps the interest for anyone with an interest in the FDNY.

Of course, NO DOUBT, Dan's upcoming book; "They Saved New York" will not only contain some Great Stories and Great Photos, but certainly be a valuable collectors book as well.

We are HONORED to have both "mikeindabronx", and Dan, aka "johnny gage", as members here with us and frequent contributors to this website.
 

1261Truckie

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Mar 3, 2007
Messages
1,268
I especially enjoy the Preface to "Into The Smoke" which advises that the period depicted in the book extends from the 60's to the the 90's (aka The War Years and slightly beyond) and was a time when things may have been done a little differently than they are done today (i.e. "...a period...was a fertile stage for innovation and development...Many of the fires depicted predate OSHA...PPE...requirements....").

As has been said many times, we probably won't see the volume of fire that was seen in those days and, due to regulations, safety concerns and current practices, we certainly won't see some of the techniques and methods used to extinguish those fires today.

Thank goodness there are those who have photographed, interviewed, written about and preserved our history otherwise it may have been lost. The "new kids" in my last department in Texas (circa 2003) couldn't believe some of my stories regarding the amount of work in New York during the 60's and 70's, riding the backstep, pull-up boots, rubber or canvas turnout coats and 2-1/2" hoselines. My personal thanks to all those who have preserved our history starting with Dennis Smith (RIP) and continuing through Johnny Gage.
 

*******

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May 21, 2009
Messages
202
Sometimes we are reluctant to write about our experiences. For example, Captain of 82 engine. We had a job early,3 am, in a closed Chinese restaurant. Fire was in the restaurant proper with a long hallway before reaching the restaurant with a right turn. 31 was forcing the door, while we waited for water. Door forced, line charged and bled. As we were starting in I heard a voice in my ear telling me to "wait." Mike Hartnett was on the nozzle. I told him to wait. Seconds later we had a backdraft in the restaurant with a ball of fire fully involving the hallway. Now who would believe this?
 
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